Hanbyul Kim lifts Korea past Puerto Rico in extra innings

Korea took the lead in the bottom of the sixth, but Puerto Rico tied it with two outs in the seventh. A swinging bunt by Hanbyul Kim gave Korea first place in Group B.
Korean shortstop Hanbyul Kim was the hero in the extra innings for Korea’s 3-2 win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday in the IV WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup.

Both teams had a hard-fought game, as they got their leads on home runs but failed to advance runners with the small ball in the tie-break. But Korea won it on a swinging bunt, putting them on top of Group B with four consecutive wins.

Starters Seungju Han and Jan Figueroa did not allow many scoring chances. Korea managed to load the bases with two outs in the third but failed to score.

Puerto Rico’s third baseman Shawn Ross broke the tie as he homered on Han’s first pitch in the top of the fifth., but Korea stroke right back.

A pair of brilliant diving catches by Ross and catcher Jonathan Nieves prevented Korea from advancing runners. However, left fielder Seunghwang Song tied the game with RBI single off reliever Gabriel Cotto’s pitch .

Korea took the lead in the bottom of the sixth. On a 1-2 count, right fielder Sejin Cho homered off reliever Juan Marcan.

Puerto Rico made the most of a defensive errors in the seventh. With two outs and runners at first and second, centre fielder Ezequiel Pagan got through Johyung Lee with an RBI single.

Both teams failed to advance the tie-break runners in the eighth. With one out and the bases loaded, Korean shortstop Hanbyul Kim looked at one pitch by Marcano and then swung at the second. He got a piece of it and it was enough to drop a swinging bunt where Marcano could not field it, winning the game for Korea.

Korea will play Mexico on Wednesday at 15.00, while Puerto Rico will play the Netherlands at 12.30.